No service safe in ‘very bleak’ future

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The leader of Amber Valley Borough Council has said that council tax will not increase this year – but has warned the future for local services is looking “very bleak”.

Cllr Paul Jones made the comments at a meeting on Monday, and blamed the situation predominantly on central Government distributing cash unfairly in the region.

The main services which face the chop are park and green space maintenance, public toilets, street cleaning, CCTV, waste and recycling services .

But he warned that any service the council offered– including the Disabled Living Grant – was “under threat”.

Cllr Jones said: “We are very happy to be able to announce no increase in council tax, but the future for local services is looking very bleak when we consider the projected reduction of 90 per cent in the Council’s external grant by 2020.

“This clearly shows that this government does not see local services as a priority.”

He said the council has identified £165,000 of savings and plan to increase commercial income, rather than reduce services.

But, he added: “At the end of the day, we’ve got a deficit of £1.5 million, which somehow needs to be funded.”

Cllr Jones said it was not possible to hike-up council tax to cover costs either, as it is capped at a certain level.

Even if it was risen to the cap, it would not make any real difference to the council budget and would not protect services, he said.

Cllr Jones said to rise it beyond the cap would require a referendum, which would cost so much it would defeat the point.